Which Exercises are Best for Weight Loss?
For many of us, the decision to lose weight comes with more questions than answers. How much weight do I need to lose, what’s my ideal weight, what should I eat/not eat, what exercise is best to help me lose weight? When we think about weight loss, we actually mean fat loss and when it comes to exercise, often, the first exercise that springs to mind is cardio because we know that it increases our heart rate and this in turn burns calories.
There are many different cardio options ranging from walking, rowing, cycling and running to name but a few and you can choose your pace, whether it be steady cardio or high impact cardio. Either one increases the heart rate and helps to burn calories. High impact cardio brings results more quickly but may not be suitable for everyone. If you’ve suffered injury or have joint problems, high impact cardio may not be right for you. Some people add short bursts of high impact cardio into their steady cardio regime. This is a really effective way of burning extra calories. It’s important that you choose what’s best for you so that you enjoy it. That way you are more likely to stick to it.
We use energy every day and as we do so, we burn calories. This is known as Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) which consists of Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), thermic effect of food and physical activity. BMR is the amount of calories we burn whilst resting and accounts for 60% of total daily energy expenditure, so although cardio is great for weight loss, for even greater results it’s a good idea to add in some strength training to build some muscle. Muscle tissue continuously burns calories, even when we are sleeping, so having muscle is a great way to burn more calories. It's worth remembering that since lean muscle weighs more than fat, it is possible to lose fat and drop a size in your clothes, without the weighing the scales noticing the difference!
There are various ways of building muscle. Lifting weights is a good option which helps to build muscle whilst helping weight loss. Dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells are great tools for this but never underestimate the benefits of using your own bodyweight for resistance, which can be ideal as a beginner and a convenient method of weight training. Examples of effective bodyweight exercises are:
- Forward and reverse lunges
The list goes on but these are just a few for starters.
Let's take a quick look at basic squats. It's important to get the technique right to ensure you don't do any damage and get the most out of this key lower body exercise. Here are some tips on the technique:
- Put your hands out in front of you for balance then sit back as if your were sitting in a chair
- When bending your knees, make sure they stay behind your toes
- Look forward with your chest up
- Try 1 to 3 sets of 10 squats
The video below shows how to do a basic bodyweight squat. Once you have mastered the basic squat, try introducing some weight to help increase strength.
So although cardio is a great exercise option to help weight loss, having more muscle leads to a higher metabolism which results in faster calorie burn, so add in some strength training for that extra boost!